Report Seeking a very specific kind of breeder- can anyone help? in General Border Collie Discussion Posted September 18, 2013 I watched a NatGeo program on Sunday evening about service dog breeding and training. I think much of the program was filmed in Britain. One of the tests done early on was to observe the dog to see which front paw it moved when it started to walk, suggesting that dogs are strongly left or right pawed. It was explained that a right pawed dog was the better choice for a service dog because they are thought to be more emotionally stable and more of a "people dog". It was added that dogs whose hair goes in counter-clockwise swirls are also chosen above dogs whose hair goes clockwise (I think I have this right but it might be the other way). So....first thing I did was check my three. All are strongly left pawed. All of my dogs are very stable in regard to noise, motion. Lady likes men, but not women. Brodie loves everybody - I take him into my mother's assisted living complex and he visits with men, women, old, young (staff), including stroke patients and the learning disabled residents. He's been to nursing homes as well and doesn't react to plastic gloves, those floaty dr gowns, wheel chairs, walkers, IVs and carts rattling down the hall. To him it is all part of the scenery. He brings a great deal of comfort to people. A man who rarely talks or shows emotion whistles and smiles when he sees Brodie and Brodie runs to him. Robin likes certain people really well and tolerates others. He shows no preference for men or women but rather focuses on those who seem to really like him. He doesn't react well to people who are learning disabled. He is also the dog that really, really, *really* likes sheep. Brodie likes sheep too but he has his own off switch; he'll look then walk away. Robin needs to be called off, repeatedly until he is out of sight of them and headed somewhere interesting - like the creek. (Brodie and Robin are littermates by the way) I thought I might train Robin in some assistance skills during his first year when I was quite ill. I had specific things in mind - to be able to carry a pack, to pick up things (laundry and whatever else I dropped.), to open handicapped doors, and to help me balance by walking very close to my left side, the direction I tended to tilt. I took him everywhere that I thought I might want to go when he was a pup - even the library, which is one of four buildings in my town that actually has an elevator. He did well with going out, was great with walking once he learned to heel (that was a battle!), and took to a pack with grace. I decided to not risk socks, etc. when he was young because he was a chewer of some regard. I did teach him and Brodie to pick up their toys and put them in a basket; very handy when it comes time to mow the lawn. I thought that Rally might be "my thing" with Robin. It moved at a slow enough pace that I felt I could do it. I realized partway through the first class that he wasn't loving it at all. He would do the moves for me quite well but he was only doing it to please me - his heart wasn't in it. We tried agility. I wasn't loving that too much - too expensive to do, I thought. All that equipment to buy or build. One day I was at a friend's who had a fenced ring, practicing my rally moves. She and a friend were doing a lesson with their Border Collies. Robin came alive; really alive. I saw for the first time how focused and happy he was when he was doing something that he was bred for. Looking at him, I remembered the Border Collies of my childhood and how they effortlessly and beautifully they worked and took such joy in what they did. I sat down with my dog and made him a promise - that we would do that. So we did. Robin still helps me with things. We continue to work on doors, going out in crowds and visiting different stores. He walks easily on a leash when I push the cart. Sometimes I let him pull the cart. He's not a mouthy dog, except for his toys - having been corrected more than once for chewing as a pup. (I think that will be Brodie's job. He's actually much more trick oriented and quicker to learn than Robin.) I've recently realized that Robin orders my life. He has recently decided that 6 AM is a good time to be rising and when he nudges me I know that it is five minutes to the hour. He's also woken me at night when I've been thrashing about in a nightmare. 10 PM is bedtime. He shows marked concern when I stay up late grading papers. While he's flexible on his feeding time, about 3 PM (but only on weekends) he starts in talking about "going to the farm" because that is when we feed on the weekends. The other two dogs do not exhibit these clock watching skills. Scotty, the dog I lost, did to the 9th degree. Dinner was served at the same time every night and when it was time to go out, he sat in front of the television until someone moved. So, my dogs are not service dogs by definition but they do preform jobs and could learn more. The thing is, it isn't what makes Robin and Brodie the happiest. They do what we ask and as the bond has grown, offered some behaviors because they love us. What they love to do, is sheep, cows, chickens... I think a Border Collie could be trained to do just about anything - but you really have to ask yourself. Is the dog's heart really in it? Though you can control some variables, a single pup from even the best bred litter is a crap shoot regardless of how it is raised. You might want the experience of breeding/raising your own pups, which many people do. I would have loved to have a pup by Robin or out of Ladybug - but what would have happen to the other five or six in the litter? You have to ask yourself - is it for you - or them? Will the animal - be it a dog, a horse, or a frog - , be fulfilled in what you want it to do? What will you do if it washes out? We don't have many choices in life, but we do have the choice about what kinds of animals we bring into our lives, what we do with them, and how we treat them. What will you do if the animal washes out of its expected work? I think it is fair to categorize me as a pet owner. Any animal that I own means a commitment for the natural life of that animal. With nine sheep, 3 dogs, and a cat, I'm pretty well booked up for the next 10 years or so. I won't be bringing so much as a goldfish into this house - and I have to say that when you go from two dogs to three, it's a whole 'nother country. If you are serious about being fair to the animal you want for a service dog, get one that has a better than average chance of being able to do the job you want. Get a Border Collie to work sheep. I guess this is my swan song on this board....not that folks will really miss me but I'm going to gain back an hour or two a week that I spend reading these bickering threads....there's just something fascinating about a train wreck but I think I can do without it.